/Two Brothers Are Charged With Stealing $25M in Crypto in 12 Seconds

Two Brothers Are Charged With Stealing $25M in Crypto in 12 Seconds

Legal issues just keep on mounting in the world of cryptocurrency.

Two brothers have been charged with wire fraud and money laundering related to $25 million in Ethereum that they stole in just 12 seconds, the BBC reported on Wednesday. Anton Peraire-Bueno and James Peraire-Bueno, both in their 20s, face more than 20 years in prison if found guilty.

“The Peraire-Bueno brothers stole $25 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency through a technologically sophisticated, cutting-edge scheme they plotted for months and executed in seconds,” Lisa Monaco, the U.S. deputy attorney general, said.

The Department of Justice noted that this is the first such crypto heist it has seen. The Peraire-Bueno brothers studied mathematics and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the BBC wrote, and prosecutors say they used the skills they learned there to exploit Ethereum’s system. They were apparently able to steal the millions of dollars in crypto by hacking into Ethereum traders’ pending transactions and rerouting the money to themselves. When a representative for the blockchain got in touch with them, they refused to return the money and then tried to launder and hide it.

“The defendants’ scheme calls the very integrity of the blockchain into question,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, said in a statement.

“The Exploit,” as investigators have called the scheme, took place back in April 2023. It’s the first time this sort of fraud is resulting in criminal charges, the BBC noted. But that doesn’t mean it’s the first time crypto has become caught up in high-level legal proceedings.

Most notably in the States, the disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing $8 billion from his customers. Over in Turkey, Faruk Fatih Özer, who created the failed Thodex exchange, was given an 11,196-year jail term. And the Binance founder Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges and said he would pay a $50 million fine.

All those cases involved men who held positions of power in the crypto world, making this week’s case an outlier. The Peraire-Bueno brothers were able to infiltrate Ethereum from the outside and make a break for it with $25 million in their (digital) pockets. That money, though, will not have been theirs for very long.

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